The Oxford Companion to British History

By John Cannon | Go to book overview


Kames, Henry Home, Lord ( 1696-1782). Judge and man of letters. Son of a petty laird, educated for the Scottish bar, Kames became a lord of Session in 1752. He was a prominent member of the Edinburgh literati and an important patron whose protégés included Adam *Smith and John *Millar. A prolific and often acute essayist, Kames's interests ranged from metaphysics to manners, morals, jurisprudence, belles-lettres, and agricultural improvement. A friend and relative of David *Hume, he provided an early and intelligent reply to his kinsman's sceptical metaphysics. A jurist, Kames was one of the first Scots to have been interested in 'conjectural history' of the Scottish Enlightenment. His Elements of Criticism ( 1762) was an early and influential textbook, widely acclaimed in the Anglo-Saxon world. He was a gregarious if overbearing man.


Kay, John ( 1704-c. 1780). Engineer and inventor. Born in 1704 near Bury (Lancs.), Kay patented his flying-shuttle for a loom in 1733. It produced a great speeding-up in the process of weaving. Kay experienced considerable difficulty in exploiting his invention. His house was destroyed in 1753 by a mob, concerned about unemployment in the industry, while the Leeds manufacturers banded together to indemnify each other against legal proceedings to enforce Kay's patent. Kay took refuge in France, where he tried to carry on, but died in obscurity.


Kay-Shuttleworth, Sir James Phillips ( 1804-77). Administrator and founder of the English education system. Educated at Edinburgh University, he studied medicine and graduated as a doctor in 1827. Working in Manchester, Kay (Shuttleworth was added after his marriage) quickly became aware of the suffering of the poor and interested himself in sanitary and educational reform. He was appointed assistant Poor Law commissioner in 1835 in the eastern counties and London area, writing valuable reports on the training of pauper children. Kay-Shuttleworth's opportunity to develop national education came in 1839 when he was appointed secretary to the Committee of the Privy Council. For the next ten years, until his health broke down, he worked with great zeal to establish a public system of elementary education, supervised by a national body of inspectors. He was responsible for the first training college for teachers at Battersea in 1840, with students from Norwood Pauper School.


Kean, Edmund ( 1787-1833). Actor. Son of an itinerant actress, Kean was exploited as an infant prodigy in London before being forced onto various provincial circuits, undergoing years of hardship but eventually playing most of the major parts. The impassioned delivery of his reappearance at Drury Lane ( 1814) as Shylock was so remarkable that the theatre's coffers were rapidly replenished. Barely average height, his flashing, sometimes demoniac approach, which so contrasted with the measured Kemble school, made him one of the most controversial of the early 19th-cent. actors, generating as much abusive criticism as admiration. Described by Talma as 'a magnificent uncut gem', and famous for his tragic roles of Richard III, Shylock, and Othello, he briefly visited France and America. Youthful irresponsibility quickly evolved into recklessness, vanity, intolerance of rivals, and drunken debauch, so, by 1827, loss of respectability had been joined by visible physical disintegration.


Keats, John ( 1795-1821). Poet and sometime surgeon's apprentice, his early work suffered by association with Leigh Hunt and the ' Cockney School', though he was never, as *Byron gibed, 'snuffed out by an article'. Most richly sensuous of Romantic poets, with a Schubertian sensitivity to love and death, the 'indescribable gusto' which *Arnold found in his writing continues to attract. 'O for a life of sensations rather than thoughts!' he exclaimed, but a keen intelligence is inseparable from the rapid development of his brief career. A severe self-critic, he introduced Endymion ( 1818) with apologies and abandoned the over-Miltonic Hyperion the following year. Nursing his dying brother he was torn between the 'realms of gold' he encountered in literature and the world 'where men sit and hear each other groan'. His best work, the Odes of 1819, dramatizes this conflict. By now ill himself with tuberculosis, a visit to Italy came too late to save him.


Keble, John( 1792-1866). Credited with launching the * Oxford movement with his Assize Sermon of 1833, Keble spent most of his life as a country parson. The sermon was provoked by the moderate reform of the Irish Church Temporalities Act, which to Keble represented a sacrilegious interference with church order by the secular power. He was heeded as a man of deep spirituality and the author of the much-loved volume of religious verse, The Christian Year ( 1827), and struck a chord with the growing *high-church


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The Oxford Companion to British History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Ppreace vii
  • Contributors ix
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • Note to the Reader xii
  • A 1
  • B 71
  • C 149
  • D 273
  • E 318
  • F 363
  • G 399
  • H 445
  • I 503
  • J 523
  • K 541
  • L 553
  • M 602
  • N 666
  • O 701
  • P 717
  • Q 782
  • R 785
  • S 831
  • T 907
  • U 941
  • V 951
  • W 960
  • Y 1008
  • Z 1015
  • Subject Index 1034


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